STORRS, Conn. -- With Major League Baseball Opening Day upon us, the UConn baseball program is well-represented in the show as well as in the lower levels of professional baseball. Three former Huskies will open the 2015 season on MLB rosters with several more climbing the ranks and looking to get there soon.
All three Huskies playing in the majors to start the year figure to be opening day starters, with Mike Olt ('10) already getting the nod for the Chicago Cubs in an Opening Night match-up against three-time All Star Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals. Arizona Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale announced at the end of spring training that Nick Ahmed ('11) will be his starting shortstop when the Diamondbacks face reigning World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants on Monday. George Springer ('11) will hit second behind batting champ Jose Altuve for the Houston Astros when they open the season against 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians.
Four Huskies ascended to the majors in 2014, setting a new program record for simultaneous MLB players. Matt Barnes ('11) joined the three on 2015 rosters with a September call-up for the Boston Red Sox and will spend the early portion of this year in AAA with eyes on returning to Boston as a starter. Joining Barnes at the highest level of the minors is Scott Oberg ('12), who will begin the year with Triple-A Albuquerque in the Colorado Rockies organization.
Other Huskies in minor league baseball include class-AA prospects John Andreoli ('11) of the Cubs, Greg Nappo ('11) for the Miami Marlins and Kevin Vance in the Diamondbacks organization. Anthony Marzi ('14) and LJ Mazzilli ('13) round out the 10 former Huskies currently playing professional baseball and have yet to be assigned minor league teams for the New York Yankees and Mets, respectively.
Springer made the biggest splash of any Husky in pro ball last year when he burst onto the national scene with 20 home runs in 78 games during his rookie campaign. Despite his limited playing time, the former UConn All-American still finished eighth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Also at the major league level is former Husky Pete Walker ('90), the pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Stay tuned to UConnHuskies.com all baseball season for updates on the current crop of Huskies in the Pros.